Bryan and I are dedicating this post to our moms. Both of them are born in the year of pig. In fact, they are golden pigs! (or that’s what the media has been telling us. Maybe in fact they are actually earthen pigs, or fire pigs, I’m so confused!) Anyway, in the Chinese zodiac, not only are there the twelve animals, there are also 5 elements (earth, metal, water, wood, fire), which change once every twelve years. Thus, an entire cycle is 60 years.
Our mothers do so much for us, and there’s no way we could ever repay them for all that they have done. Not only did they make sure we were healthy and well fed, they taught us values and really shaped us to become who we are today. Furthermore, they both happen to be fantastic cooks. They immigrated to the US from Taiwan. Not having much access to Asian food, they both took it upon themselves to learn and make various Chinese dishes at home. Today I will share with you some dishes/recipes handed down to us from our mothers.
1. Beef Noodle Soup by Jen’s mom (“Mama”)
I snapped a picture of this delicious soup the last time I was home back in October. Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to ask her for the recipe yet! So you’ll just have to wait. Meanwhile, my friend Bea has a pretty good one posted on her blog. It is appropriately called Mother of All Beef Noodle Soups (or Beef Noodle Soup of All Mothers). Being the engineer that she is, Bea has made sure that the recipe is actually well-tested and optimized.
2. Wild Mushroom Soup by Bryan’s Mom (“Mom”)
I love this soup. It is so healthy, refreshingly, light, yet flavorful at the same time. Bryan’s mom tasted this soup in the countryside of Taiwan during a trip a couple years ago. After seeing how they made this soup table side, she created her own version and shared it with us. Click here for the recipe.
3. Green Mango Salad by Jen’s mom (“Mama”)
This is one of my mom’s more recent creations, and it is wildly popular at every potluck she attends. Unripened mangos are tossed with some sesame oil, salt, and cilantro, resulting in a bright, crisp salad that is both refreshing and delicious. Click here for the recipe.
4. Microwave Steamed Salmon with Bacon and Scallions by Bryan’s Mom (“Mom”)
Whenever I baked boring salmon in the oven Bryan would tell me “my mom wraps BACON and scallions around the salmon she makes and she cooks it in the microwave.” Intrigued, we eventually asked her for the recipe. She was kind enough to e-mail it to us, and it really saved our butt one time when we needed to cook something fast and delicious for a potluck. Everyone loved it, and it was so EASY! Click here for the recipe.
5. Aromatic Boiled Peanuts by Jen’s mom (“Mama”)
There weren’t many Asians in northwestern Ohio where I grew up. As a result, the few Taiwanese that lived in my neighborhood became really good friends and often had potlucks at each others’ houses. This seemed to be my mom’s signature dish, as it was the one she brought most often. I love this simple dish. Peanuts are boiled in a broth of Asian spices, resulting in a savory and fragrant appetizer that is hard to stop eating! I have yet to post on this recipe, but I will be doing so soon!
Finally, a nod to our Grandmothers . . .
It’s awesome when dishes are passed on generation to generation to generation.
Bryan’s mom makes this awesome pumpkin cake (nan gua gao). It’s like the traditional turnip or taro cake that you see in Cantonese restaurants, but it’s made from pumpkin! She painstakingly learned it from Bryan’s paternal grandmother years ago. In fact, I think she is the only one of her generation who managed to learn how to make this delicious and unique dish from Bryan’s grandma. We eat it every year during Christmas. I love it!
My mom makes the best batsangs (zhongzi) in the world. She learned from my grandmother, who used to make them all the time. Her version is filled with peanuts and sometimes a chestnut too! My mom has been making these for me for as long as I can remember. They have helped me survive at least one snowstorm in Boston (when we were all stuck into our dorms with no food!!) She never hesitates to ship more to me when I run out. Truly, the ultimate comfort food.
Happy Mother’s Day to “Mama” and “Mom”! We love you!
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